Through World Monuments Fund
(WMF), The Paul Mellon Estate has announced a pledge of $250,000 towards the restoration of the State Music Room at Stowe House
, the magnificent Grade I listed Neo-Classical palace set in 400 acres of landscaped park in Buckinghamshire. The funding means that the work will begin this year and should be completed by 2012-13.
WMF Britains Chief Executive Dr Jonathan Foyle said The generous gift of The Paul Mellon Estate, along with donations from our members, trusts and foundations and others who responded to our recent Music Room Challenge, will allow one of the principal rooms of Stowe to be restored for everyone to enjoy. This magnificent response brings WMFs £10 million fundraising challenge for Stowe to within £410,000 of its target wonderfully positive news in these economically challenged times. Completion of the State Music Room will allow the core of historic spaces at Stowe to be presented as they were at the turn of the 19th century, following the recent restoration of the Marble Saloon and the Large Library.
World Monuments Fund Britain (WMF) included Stowe in its 2002 Watch List of endangered sites and began to support the project by substantially funding the restoration of the astonishing Marble Saloon with its 57-foot-high dome which was completed in 2005. One of the largest and most spectacular spaces to be found in any British country house, the Saloon is an oval version of the Pantheon in Rome . WMF in partnership with Stowe House Preservation Trust (SHPT) has undertaken the daunting challenge of restoring this great mansion with its 400 rooms and 1/6 mile-wide façade.
The State Music Room
Situated between the Marble Saloon and the Large Library, the State Music Room is one of the finest late 18th century spaces in Britain , showcasing Italian artistry in the heart of England . Whilst begun in 1676, it was only after a century of ceaseless building and landscape gardening that Richard Grenville-Temple (1711-79), 2nd Earl Temple to some, largely completed Stowe House, including the south front, the Temple Room and the Music Room in the 1770s.
The exquisite decorations on the ceiling and walls are the laborious work of Vincenzo Valdre and were completed after 1781. Their style recalls the Pompeian discoveries which had attracted the Marquess of Buckingham on his Grand Tour of 1774. They depict flowers, butterflies and birds and bring a sense of fun with many classical figures cheerfully suspending swags or supporting a cornice. The imposing Corinthian columns at either end of the room are the work of Domenico Bartoli and imitate Siena marble. At the north end they frame a beautiful niche depicting a scallop-shell motif with oak leaves ornamenting its pilasters.
The State Music Room was not only used for music and theatre but also for dining and breakfasting, as it still is today. The extensive restoration includes overhauling the heating system, replacing the floors, repairing mouldings and joinery, cleaning and restoring the wall paintings and panels, the doors and the columns, as well as extensive gilding.